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December 19 2012

Ancient Bones That Tell a Story of Compassion


While it is a painful truism that brutality and violence are at least as old as humanity, so, it seems, is caring for the sick and disabled.

And some archaeologists are suggesting a closer, more systematic look at how prehistoric people who may have left only their bones treated illness, injury and incapacitation. Call it the archaeology of health care.

The case that led Lorna Tilley and Marc Oxenham of Australian National University in Canberra to this idea is that of a profoundly ill young man who lived 4,000 years ago in what is now northern Vietnam and was buried, as were others in his culture, at a site known as Man Bac.

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